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Patient Advocacy Program

The Patient Advocacy Program is a point of contact and resource coordinator for patients prescribed controlled substance medications who abruptly lost access to care.

Additionally, the Patient Advocacy Program connects with patients to learn more about concerns related to the prescribing of opioids and other controlled substances, access to prescriptions, and barriers to finding a doctor. The Program communicates patient feedback with internal and external stakeholders to inform coordinated, patient-centered healthcare in Pennsylvania.

Patients with questions or feedback may contact the Patient Advocacy Program by emailing ra-dh-advocacy@pa.gov or calling 844-377-7367.

Please note, patients may choose to remain anonymous and are not required to share personal information such as their healthcare provider's name or prescription history. In addition, the Patient Advocacy Program does not have access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program system and will only know medical or prescription history if the patient chooses to share that information.

Where Patients Can Seek Care

When patients suddenly lose access to their healthcare provider, they may feel they have no other options but to turn to other sources to avoid withdrawal. This greatly increases their risk of overdose.

We want you to know help is available.

The following steps are recommended to patients when they suddenly lose access to their healthcare provider.

Patients Prescribed Opioids or Benzodiazepines

  • If you have a primary care provider, contact them to discuss next steps in care.
  • If you do not have a primary care provider or if they are unable to provide care, find a provider by calling the number on the back of your health insurance card or check your insurer's website for in-network providers.
  • If you do not have health insurance, you may consider seeing a community healthcare provider at a health center near you. Visit: findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/

Patients Prescribed Buprenorphine (Suboxone or Subutex)

  • If you have health insurance, you may call the number on the back of your health insurance card or check your insurer's website for in-network providers.
  • Or search online for providers who may prescribe buprenorphine. Visit: findtreatment.gov/results/.
  • Patients who are prescribed buprenorphine (or another medication) as part of treatment for an opioid use disorder may also visit ddap.pa.gov for more treatment resources and information.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or are having trouble coping, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
 
Download our "Where to Seek Care" handout to share this information.

Avoid Withdrawal

When a patient who has been treated with opioids, benzodiazepines, or other controlled substances, suddenly loses access to a healthcare provider, the patient may be at risk of severe physical and mental withdrawal if care is not re-established. Withdrawal symptoms happen when a patient takes less of their medication than they are used to or when they stop taking their medication abruptly.

Withdrawal symptoms do not happen because a patient has done something wrong.

Detoxification, or detox programs, are structured to help patients safely and more comfortably manage the withdrawal process. To access these services, patients will first complete an assessment to determine the appropriate level of care.

The following options are recommended for accessing assessment and detox programs:

  • If you have health insurance, you may call the number on the back of your health insurance card or check your insurer's website to find a detox provider/program.
  • Search online for detox providers/programs. Visit: findtreatment.gov/results/.
  • Patients may also contact their local Single County Authority (SCA) to learn more about assessment and treatment services, including options for detoxing. Look up the SCA in your County here.
  • In the case of a medical emergency, call 911 or go to your local Emergency Room immediately.

Avoid Opioid Overdose

Naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose and is available through a state-wide standing order, which means you do not need a prescription. Most pharmacies carry naloxone. For more information, visit: PA.gov/opioids

Find Treatment

Help is available for those battling substance use disorder. Call the Get Help Now Hotline at 1-800-662-4357 or visit ddap.pa.gov for treatment information.

Partners

The Patient Advocacy Program involves the collaboration of multiple agencies including the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Pennsylvania Insurance Department, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, and Pennsylvania Department of State.

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